By Laura Vance
Walking through Huntingtown’s Columbian Exposition in December brought back many mixed memories for me. I began to remember random Gilded Age trivia that I forgot I knew, and the excitement I felt in Mr. James’ third period resurfaced in full form. I took AP United States History (APUSH) last year, the first year that the course was offered to freshmen. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an emotional hurricane of stress for me. Yet, walking through all the exhibits caused me to wonder if any of those excited faces felt the same way. Freshman Seth Hilton, boasting an impressive match booth, somewhat agrees. “I liked it better than History Fair,” he admitted in the crowded Media Center, “but there weren’t many sources, so it was hard and a little stressful.”
When asked if they would recommend this class to the incoming freshmen, Tori Minakowski advised, “I would say, ‘know what your limits are, and try to figure them out before you sign up for this class, because it’s very intense and requires a lot of work. So, if you think that you’re not able to give that, then I wouldn’t recommend signing up for it. But if you’re looking for a good experience, then I would suggest it.’” Based on my personal experience with APUSH, I would have to agree with Minakowski one hundred times over. Through this experience, my time management and efficiency improved immensely alongside that of my classmates. That, I think, is just as valuable as the knowledge gained from any United States History class.
I also wondered how this switch impacted teachers. How did it compare to teaching sophomores which was the case before last year? What were the negatives? Were there any positives? Would these supposed pros and cons impact the fair? When I posed these questions to Mr. James, an APUSH teacher at Huntingtown, he gave me a unique perspective on teaching freshmen. He explained that freshmen only have issues with on-demand essay-writing, as they have one less year of experience. Yet he didn’t think this aspect of the class would impact the fair. Regardless, this doesn’t diminish their enthusiasm, which most of the students seem to have. “I thought the kids did an amazing job this year,” he told me. “Everyone was very interactive, and I think it was a good way to kick off the end of the decade.”
For incoming freshmen who want to push themselves past their limits or gain the valuable lesson of how a college class functions, I would definitely advise them to register for this class. However, if nothing is driving you toward a specific goal, the class likely won’t be effective or impactful. To reiterate: know your limits, because in the end, this could be one of the most valuable in-school experiences that Huntingtown High School has to offer.